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Updated:August 23, 2021
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This document describes the installation of a third-party CA-signed certificate in Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). The process is the same regardless of the final certificate role (EAP authentication, Portal, Admin, and pxGrid).
Cisco recommends that you have knowledge of Basic Public Key Infrastructure.
The information in this document is based on Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) Release 3.0. The same configuration applies to releases 2.X
The information in this document was created from the devices in a specific lab environment. All of the devices used in this document started with a cleared (default) configuration. If your network is live, ensure that you understand the potential impact of any command.
In order to generate the CSR, navigate to Administration > Certificates > Certificate Signing Requests and click on Generate Certificate Signing Requests (CSR).
Under the Usage section, select the role to be used from the drop-down menu. If the certificate is used for multiple roles you can select Multi-Use. Once the certificate is generated the roles can be changed if necessary.
Select the node for which the certificate will be generated.
Fill out the information as needed (Organizational Unit, Organization, City, State and Country).
Note: Under Common Name (CN) field ISE auto-populates the node’s Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN).
If the goal is to generate a wildcard certificate check the Allow Wildcard Certificates box.
If the certificate is used for EAP authentications the * symbol should not be in the Subject CN field as Windows supplicants reject the server certificate.
Even when Validate Server Identity is disabled on the supplicant, the SSL handshake may fail when the * is in the CN field.
Instead, a generic FQDN can be used in the CN field, and then the *.domain.com can be used on the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) DNS Name field.
Note: Some Certificate Authorities (CA) may add the wildcard (*) in the CN of the certificate automatically even if it not present in the CSR. In this scenario, a special request is required to be raised to prevent this action.
Individual server certificate CSR example:
Wildcard CSR example:
Note: Each deployment node(s)’s IP address can be added to the SAN field to avoid a certificate warning when you access the server via the IP address.
Once the CSR is created, ISE displays a pop-up window with the option to export it. Once exported, this file should be sent to the CA for signing.
Step 2. Import a New Certificate Chain.
The Certificate Authority returns the signed server certificate along with the full certificate chain (Root/Intermediate). Once received, follow the steps here to import the certificates into your ISE server:
In order to import any Root and (or) Intermediate certificates provided by the CA, navigate to Administration > Certificates > Trusted Certificates.
Click Import and then choose the Root and/or Intermediate certificate and choose the relevant check boxes as they apllied to submit.
In order to import the Server certificate, navigate to Administration > Certificates > Certificate Signing Requests.
Select the CSR previously created and click on Bind Certificate.
Select the new certificate location and ISE binds the certificate to the private key created and stored in the database.
Note: If the Admin Role has been selected for this certificate, the specific ISE server services restart.
Caution: If the certificate imported is for the Primary Administratino Node of the deployment and if the Admin role is selected, then the services on all nodes restart one after the other. This is expected and a downtime is recommended to perform this activity.
If the admin role was selected during the certificate import you can verify the new certificate is in place by loading the admin page in the browser. The browser should trust the new admin certificate as long as the chain was built correctly and if the certificate chain is trusted by the browser.
For additional verification select the lock symbol in the browser and under the certificate path verify the full chain is present and trusted by the machine. This is not a direct indicator that the full chain was passed down correctly by the server but an indicator of the browser able to trust the server certificate based on its local trust store.
Supplicant Doesn't Trust the ISE Local Server Certificate during a dot1x Authentication
Verify ISE is passing the full certificate chain during the SSL handshake process.
When using EAP methods that require a server certificate (i.e. PEAP) and Validate Server Identity is selected, the supplicant validates the certificate chain using the certificates it has in its local trust store as part of the authentication process. As part of the SSL handshake process, ISE presents its certificate and also any Root and (or) intermediate certificates present in its chain. The supplicant won’t be able to validate the server identity if the chain is incomplete. To verify the certificate chain is passed back to your client, you can perform the following steps:
In order to take a capture from ISE (TCPDump) during the authentication, navigate to Operations > Diagostic Tools > General Tools > TCP Dump.
Download/Open the capture and apply the filter ssl.handshake.certificates in Wireshark and find an access-challenge.
Once Selected, navigate to Expand Radius Protocol > Attribute Value Pairs > EAP-Message Last segment > Extensible Authentication Protocol > Secure Sockets Layer > Certificate > Certificates.
Certificate chain in the capture.
If the chain is incomplete, navigate to ISE Administration > Certificates > Trusted Certificates and verify that the Root and (or) Intermediate certificates are present. If the certificate chain is passed successfully, the chain itself should be verified as valid by using the method outlined here.
Open each certificate (server, intermediate and root) and verify the chain of trust by matching the Subject Key Identifier (SKI) of each certificate to the Authority Key Identifier (AKI) of the next certificate in the chain.
Example of a certificate chain.
ISE Certificate Chain is Correct but Endpoint Rejects ISE’s Server Certificate during Authentication
If ISE is presenting its full certificate chain during the SSL handshake and the supplicant is still rejecting the certificate chain; the next step is to verify that the Root and(or) Intermediate certificates are in the client Local Trust Store.
In order to verify this from a Windows device, navigate to mmc.exeFile > Add-Remove Snap-in. From Available snap-ins column select Certificates and click on Add. Select either My user account or computer account depending upon the authentication type in use (User or Machine) and then click on OK.
Under the console view, select Trusted Root Certification Authorities and Intermediate Certification Authorities to verify the presence of Root and Intermediate certificate in the local trust store.
An easy way to verify that this is a Server Identity Check issue, uncheck Validate Server Certificate under the supplicant profile configuration and test it again.